Free Democrats Party’s Statement On the New Draft Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia.
Both the Electoral Code that establishes certain mechanisms of control over the electoral process and the existence of political will are the necessary preconditions for holding democratic elections.
Highlighting the importance of holding elections in accordance with democratic standards in the Republic of Armenia and increasing citizens’ trust towards the electoral process, Free Democrats Party considers that the new Draft Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia (thereafter also Draft Code) does not provide clear mechanisms to prevent electoral frauds, and that a number of its provisions directly contradict the basic principles of democracy.
Hence, Free Democrats Party is against the proposed Draft Electoral Code and presents the following suggestions on the Draft Code.
- To prevent the practice of multiple voting, we suggest that an electronic fingerprint registration system be introduced. The data of voters registered through the electronic fingerprint system should be identified with the central database.
- While publishing the lists of voters, the authorized body should publish the lists of voters who have ID cards, biometric passports, and any other identity documents.
- The lists of persons who participated in the elections should be published and made available for inspections.
- Article 30(1) is incomplete and Article 30(2) is controversial. In particular, Article 30(2) suggests that organizations and bodies referred to in Article 30(1) may carry out observation mission upon invitations. Exclusively, the President of the Republic of Armenia, the Prime Minister, the Chairperson of the National Assembly, and the Central Electoral Commission are entitled to invite mentioned organizations and bodies to carry out observation mission.
We suggest that Article 30(1) be amended with a provision, paragraph 4 with the following content: “4) Accredited diplomatic and consular representations in the Republic of Armenia”. We also suggest that Article 30(2) be removed and a clear application procedure of electoral observation mission by international organizations, diplomatic and consular representations be introduced. No restrictions should be applied to those organizations that meet the requirements of the application procedure.
- According to Article 65(7), “More than eight local observers and representatives of mass media may not be present in the voting room at the same time”. This provision could restrict media work as it creates conditions to artificially securing the presence of eight observers in the voting room at the same time, therefore, prohibiting, under the law, media representatives from entering that voting room.
Thus, the limitation on eight persons’ presence should be removed from Article 65(7).
- Article 97 contradicts one of the basic norms of democracy – formation of new units – as well as the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia as it restricts the possibility of forming political coalitions. This will not allow other political forces representedin the National Assembly but the political force that took the first place to form the government.
Thus, we suggest that Article 97 be edited with the following content. “Within 3 days after adoption of the decision provided for in Article 95(1) 2 of this Code, any political party, alliance of political parties having passed the electoral thresholds may form a political coalition with other political parties (alliances) having passed the electoral thresholds, where the sum of the votes cast for them is sufficient for making up 54 percent of the total number of mandates, and they have come to an agreement as to the candidate for Prime Minister”.
- Article 78 set forth that each political party, alliance of political parties running in elections shall nominate one national electoral list of candidates and one district electoral list for each district. Article 84(8) set forth that the district electoral list of a political party, alliance of political parties may include no more than one candidate per 10 000 electors of that district but no less than five candidates.
The mentioned articles contradict the Article 89(3) of the Constitution which states: “Elections of the National Assembly shall be held under the proportional electoral system.” The proposed provisions, however, suggest not a proportional electoral system, but a mixed, closer to the majoritarian system. The classical proportional system suggests that the entire area of the Republic of Armenia be considered as a single electoral district, and the entire area of the Republic of Armenia be voted with the common list of parties or party alliances. This may also include rating vote, but represented with the common list, that is, in all 13 constituencies should be the same list. This principle is violated by the proposed content of Article 78 and Article 84(8) of the Draft Code.
We suggest that Article 78 be edited with the following content. “Elections of the National Assembly shall be held under the proportional electoral system, from a multi-mandate constituency covering the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia from among candidates for Deputies nominated in the national and district electoral lists of political parties, alliance of political parties. For rating voting the voters may vote for their preferred candidate from the party’s general electoral list which is the same for the entire territory of the Republic of Armenia. Therefore, Article 84(8) should be removed from the Draft Code.